Rory McIlroy leads the pack in Dubai Desert Classic


By Alex Leach

Rory McIlroy is confident of taking out his second Omega Dubai Desert Classic title here, despite seeing his two-shot overnight lead halved by Brooks Koepka on Friday.

The Northern Irishman, 24, could only manage to add two strokes to Thursday’s opening round of nine-under par, thereby allowing the likes of Koepka, Danny Willett and world number three Henrik Stenson to bunch up in the chasing pack behind him.

However, having emerged as the leader for two rounds in succession, McIlroy believes he can win wire-to-wire having already proven his front-running credentials in the past.

“I do (expect to win),” McIlroy replied when asked whether fans’ expectations matched his own after day two on the Majlis course. “I’m leading the golf tournament. I’ve been in this position before and I’ve gone on to win. I’ve led from the front quite well in tournaments that I’ve won and I feel like I’m still playing well.

“I know the course just as well as anyone else, so I’m expecting to go out there, shoot two good scores over the weekend and hopefully lift the trophy.”

Teeing off on the first hole, which he eventually bogeyed, McIlroy recovered with three birdies — at the third, fifth and seventh holes — to make the turn for home on two-under.

However, he was unable to capitalise on what is deemed the more profitable back nine holes, where bogeys on 13 and 16 were bookended by birdies at the 10th and the last. More info